, Volume 248, Issue 3, pp 144-146

The occurrence and ultrastructure of a mechanoreceptor in the human cricopharyngeus muscle

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An encapsulated nerve structure resembling the Golgi tendon organ was found in a human cricopharyngeus muscle near the cricoid cartilage where muscle fibers terminate. The capsule consisted of lamellated flattened cells with a basal lamina. Capsular cells separated the lumen into small compartments which contained myelinated and/or nonmyelinated nerve fibers. Nonmyelinated nerve fibers were also found in the interlamellar spaces of the capsular cells. Some nonmyelinated nerve fibers were dilated and contained abundant mitochondria, being partly surrounded by a Schwann cell sheath and embedded in collagen bundles. These features indicate that the nerve structure is a mechanoreceptor similar to the Golgi tendon organ. Its location and structure indicate that it is placed to detect the tension of the cricopharyngeus muscle.

Offprint requests to: T. Nagai